EXCERPTS FROM CHAPTER 12, 1987– 1997 MY EIGHTH DECADE, Part 3
HE WROTE IT, THEY DID IT, HE SAVED IT; TRANSFORMING AMERICA!!
“JOE SEFEKAR’S INSPIRING STORY OF AN IMMIGRANT’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE HEALTH, WELFARE AND ARTS OF UNITED STATES.”
January 3, 1997
This storied decade began auspiciously with the celebration of our 55th Wedding Anniversary. All of the attendees at our 50th, made their re-appearance in Florida. We combined the wedding party with my eightieth birthday and we celebrated on Sunday, February 15 at the DoubleTree Hotel on Clearwater, Beach, Florida. We had had our 40th Anniversary at the Holiday Inn in 1982, before the change in name to the DoubleTree. My daughter Bonnie, Lee her husband, and daughters attended as did my son Bill, and his wife. It was a special event in that I was recuperating from my stroke in October 1996, I had some visages of weakness in my right leg and arm. Luckily, with extensive physical therapy, I had recovered normal usage of my arm and leg and I have continued my daily exercise regimen.
Figures #12.36 and Figure #12.37 Celebrating and Feel Like Dancin’
On June 6, Thelma and I made a short visit to Maryland to attend graduation ceremonies of Diana was graduating from Sherwood high school in Olney, Maryland; a suburb of Washington, D.C. The celebration party was lots of fun, with members of the family attending from New Jersey, Florida and New York. The highlight of the activities was a graduation ceremony at Constitution Hall, the class of all the elegant buildings in Washington, DC. The only occurrence that marred the day was a near-calamity that we barely avoided. As we waited outside the parking garage, I was sort of surrounded by three men, one of the them, very well-dressed, in a wheelchair. One of the men dropped a key, and I, like a good Samaritan bent over to help I saw him retrieve the key, but the other men continue to look for the key. I saw there were no keys on the floor and I grew suspicious. I had heard of such instances, with the attention of the victim, was diverted by noises in conversation. I put my hand to my back wallet pocket, and I felt the hand of the man in the wheelchair, then quickly withdrawn. Luckily, he had only unbuttoned the back pocket but he hadn’t gotten my wallet. The three men disappeared quickly, and we did not impede their departure, happily that no one was hurt. It all took only about three minutes; my wife saw all this happening was nearby. She had heard the men saying, “lift up your foot”. She thought I was having trouble because of my stroke. This was a close encounter, both figuratively and literally. It was an interesting enough story that I sent it to one of the popular columnists at the Washington Post, Bob Levey. He even acknowledged my letter and sent a response note; included below
Figure #12.38 Letter to Bob Levy, Washington Post Figure #12.39 Congratulatory note
There were many miracles of this century – the supersonic airplanes, radio, HD television, man on the moon, etc. on Saturday, July 5, NASA announced and on Sunday, July 6, the headlines in the St. Petersburg Times read that “scientists marvel at photos from Mars”. Although people were aware that NASA had launched a Mars project, the amazement of the landing was exceeded only by the amazing photos and information being received from the Memorial station by remote control.
The Pathfinder, the Mars lander, and the vehicle (Rover) leaving the lander (by remote control from Earth) is named “Sojourner”. The sojourner is a roving vehicle, weighing 23 pounds. In the few short hours of operation it has returned clear color photographs to words, as well as accessing the chemical composition of anything it finds. It was noted that the Mars Pathfinder project was being renamed the Carl Sagan Memorial station in honor of the famed astronomer who died in December 1996.
Investing was one of the intriguing activities that I dabbled in. These are serious games and the consequences are life-threatening. The highs and lows are not manageable, Bernard Baruch, the most respected financier and presidential advisor of the 1940s said you can outwit the market with a quote from the book. The low-income people don’t have the money to “play the market”. They will think that the rest of the upper income people are “raking” in the money – in 1987 and 92, the middle-income people lost fortunes in the stock market. I kept some of his guidelines handy. Here were a few:
Figure #12.40 “Some words to invest by”
2. When the technical pattern conforms with fundamental judgment.
3. Sell quickly if the stock does not act as anticipated.
4. Try not to be overly bullish or bearish.
5. Do not over trade.
Our Social Security should not be subject to the vagaries of the stock market. What happened to the 401(k)s held by the officers and employees of Enron world company, other corporations – airlines, etc.
The last three excerpts from the blog before the “book” is printed will reference discussions about topics that’s near and dear to my heart; living among ourselves; fighting against prejudice and fanaticism. And one in particular laying bare the roots of Nazi horror and Genocide in general. This is just a few small portion of the dozens and dozens of documents and papers I have amassed dealing with the Holocaust in which my son picked up the gauntlet and carried the torch, In the book: “Light: Courage and Hope.”
Figure #12.41 Elie Wiesel Speaking and program Eckerd College, St. Petersburg
On Thursday, November 21, 1991 we had the privilege of hearing Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel speak at Eckerd College as part of their Distinguished Speaker Series.
“How is it that one Jew was caught and another not? How is it that Jackie and I survived, while others of our age were sent to their deaths? Were they not as good, or as worthy, as me; They certainly were. Then what is the answer? As a rule, the why’s and wherefores of what had befallen us remains open questions. One may not venture answers to such difficult questions. One may only relate…”
Jackito Handeli 115003 meet Haim Matalon 9102324. Numbers tattooed on victim’s arm for identification at the Concentration Camps.
Talking about fate- how did I, a cousin to 4 other first cousins of the Holocaust, emerge from this maelstrom of war? By a stroke of fate, my parents migrated from Salonica in 1916. They arrived in New York Harbor on September 16th, 1916, the Ships manifest is found in Chapter 1.
Figure #12.42 50 Years Ago; the Holocaust Remembered
A 50 years Holocaust Chronology of the end of the camps, January – February 1945
Figure #12.43 Story about the Anne Frank Legacy.
How her diary became a rallying cry for the triumph-of-the-spirit. As was quoted in the article the comment by Franz Kafka often cited, “We need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we love more than ourselves.” If ever there was such a book, it is Anne Frank’s Diary.
Figure #12.44 Tremendous Power of Hate Figure #12.45 Heart of Nazi Terror
As indicated above, from 1933 to 1945, Jews from every part of Europe and representatives of over two millennia of tradition, culture and humanity was sent to Nazi death camps and forced labor camps in the end, more than 6 million Jewish men, women and children perished (of which 1 1/4 million were children).
Figures #12.46 Copy of the Book: “Greek Jew from Salonika Remembers” Figures #12.46 and #12.47 Letter to Publisher for a copy of the book.
What also peaked my interest was a visit by my cousin Haim, who lived in northern Israel; Haifa. In 1991 during the 1st Gulf War he and his wife Yona stayed with us for over two months. We managed to talk about his experience as a Holocaust survivor at Auschwitz and his migration to Israel after War II. I will just provide you with a sampling of the 15 page document. (**More to appear in the book).
Figures #12.48 “Haim’s Story”
Figure #12.49 Letter to Charlie Reese
I would read Charlie Reese’s article’s on a regular basis and found them mostly timely and topical. Yet at this juncture the subject matter was more troubling on the topic that was most sensitive to me and the experiences that I had encountered during my lifetime. It was duly noted and in closing, reiterated my position: Mr. Reese, your column is your life, this letter is my life. I did follow this up with my closing sentence, “May you continue writing your column in good health.”
Figure #12.50 Apr. 29, 1993 Letter to First Lady, Hillary Clinton and Figure #12.51 Accompanying Article on Steps to Universal Health Care
My concerns with healthcare began beating incessantly like a drum especially since we were requiring more regularly scheduled visits particularly with Thelma’s health issues. I fired off a letter to First Lady Hillary Clinton explaining senior citizen’s concerns with Medicare and with what the legislative action might be and attached an article that I thought handled the concerns well. Guess things really hadn’t changed because of the complexity of this problem as we are reeling in the muck and mire of universal healthcare today as well. Although there was a bit of hope that I felt 15 years later when I updated my request again to Mrs. Clinton who was then US Sen. Hillary Clinton from New York. Attached is the letter that was sent on April 10, 2008.
Figure #12.52 Letter sent to Sen. Hillary Clinton on Health Care Issues
Chapter 12 vignette 1
Patriotism is assured when there are patriots who we can count on. We do not need men who seek refuge as a plan to subjugate the people whom they call liberals in Sofia’s own parlance. It means that if you’re an average individual, who is Patriotic and your liberal (whatever that means), and you don’t want to be called unpatriotic, so you must say you’re not a liberal, which in turn makes you a patriot without being labeled a liberal.
This is the time that tries men’s souls. Are You a Sunshine patriot and/or a winter soldier? I’m a convert many times over – New York, Washington, D.C., and Palm Harbor, FL. I loved them all, and I feel like a citizen of the world. I’m a real New Yorker-born with an inborn Liberalism – with the basic work ethic, the regular family values. (After 75 years, I know I have them- and I never knew it even with my education fetish).
Gentlemen of the Legislature – you’re not playing politics, you’re talking budget.
What you’re doing is hamstringing the Florida education system and destroying the faith of our children in our governing representatives.
I looked at my teachers with awe. They taught me the daily niceties of being tolerant of those around me. At age 10, when I came home from school, I realized, realized that my demeanor to my siblings had changed. – I said to myself why can’t I speak quietly to my family the way my teachers conducted themselves. I received my early training at P.S. 115 in Brooklyn, New York. (P.S. standing for Public School).
I’m a volunteer at East Lake High School in Palm Harbor, FL. and there’s going to be a library in this area in part due to my efforts. I am there and doing that because of the warm feeling I have for the American Education System. I wasn’t an outstanding student but I had stick-to-itiveness. I attended summer school to add to my college credits. I received two degrees attending L.I. University and N.Y. University with a lot of help from my homemaker wife, built up our family unit. I used the GI Bill and owe no debts to the government. But I owe a debt of gratitude to Uncle Sam. Mr. Chiles – use Education as your keystone. No one can blame you for fighting for Education – win or lose – you are right. Your opponents used Education to cut the budget to the bone. You can use the Education budget to rescue the children – no one can fault you for being the true Education Governor.
Figure #12.53 “I’m Eighty” Figure #12.54 Closing remarks from my retirement talk at the Hirshhorn Museum
I asked for grace enough to listen to the tales of others pains. Help me to endure them with patience. But seal my lips on my own aches and pains that are increasing, and my love of rehearsing them has become sweeter as the years go by.
Figure #12.55 Henny Youngman, 70 years of Laughing
The man who made famous the line, “Take my wife, Please!” I could never understand why a man would say this. I could never utter it, I would be afraid because knowing what I have, no sooner that the words came out of my mouth there would be someone there to take my precious gift.
A philosophical discourse
I always admired the great people of my times, the creative genius, artistic creators of books, music, the arts and movies. I kept track of each year some of the great people as they left this world 1997. There will be no exceptions. This year took Robert Mitchum, Lloyd Bridges, James Stewart Richard Oakley Willie J Jane, Jacques Cousteau, Stubby Kay, Burgess Meredith, Brian Keith, Red Skelton and Chris Farley just to name a few. I never spent too much time delving into the Obits but just made some mental notes and jotted them down to remember how much we owed them.
Copyright © 2016 William Sefekar
** Material will appear in book.
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